This week, my Stone House Garden volunteers and I will be walking our display garden at the Rochester OPC, taking notes and snapping pictures of the plants. We’ll be focusing on what I call “the good, the bad and the ugly.” In other words, we will  document what worked and what didn’t. We’ll also take notes on what needs to be divided or moved. A poor performer may just need a new home. 

There was a time when I could take mental notes in the garden and remember them the following spring. But the Stone House Garden at the OPC is too large and my memory is not what it once was. So taking photos with my phone is the quickest and easiest way to document issues, and I’ll know where to find them next spring.

One of the first things we look for is disease.  I don’t have time nor do I want to be treating plants for disease, so those with leaves sporting ugly black spots may well be on the chopping block.  We have a Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) that reseeds and developed ghastly leaf spot. It’s toast.  

Leaves covered with what looks like powdered sugar is another fungal disease (powdery mildew) that is pretty common in gardens, but fortunately, in spite of the hot weather and high humidity, it has not been an issue in the garden this year.

Plants that continue to pump out color at this time of year are A-listers. At the top of this list are the smaller compact growing zinnias in the Profusion and Zahara series. They not only bloom all season, the flowers last an extraordinarily long time and they age well, making deadheading a breeze.

Bowaillia and Angelonia are two other A-listers. They, too, bloom non-stop and these beauties are self-cleaning, meaning they don’t need deadheading.   

We have a rather large collection of coneflowers in the Stone House Garden, thanks to a generous end of the year donation. We started with Echinacea Magnus, the pink native cultivar that was designated the Perennial Plant of the Year way back in 1998 and remains a staple in gardens today.   

The Coneflower Supreme ‘Cantaloupe’ put on an incredible show for the second year that has lasted for months. One of the new varieties that develops a pom-pom like center as it ages, you can’t beat it for style and color. This is a “must have” for any garden.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at

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